Archive for September, 2012

Upton at Broadway and 12th Ave.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Uptown the pride of south Main


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High life on Burnaby Mountain

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Univercity Mountain Fall Festival


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Billion-dollar Olympic organization remains intact

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

VANOC named in several B.C. Supreme Court lawsuits following 2010 Games

Bob Mackin
Van. Courier

Two-and-a-half-years since the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics ended, the organizing committee has not yet closed its books.

VANOC chief executive John Furlong delivered the final post-Games report to the International Olympic Committee’s annual meeting in Durban, South Africa on July 7, 2011, and said the wind-down was “substantially complete.”

“We’re very close to being no longer and by this time next year, we will, in fact, be no longer,” Furlong told IOC members.

But VANOC chair Rusty Goepel told the Courier another annual general meeting will happen this fall and the board, which includes city manager Penny Ballem, will be downsized. He expects responsibilities will eventually be turned over to civil servant “caretakers” from city hall and the federal and B.C. governments. “It’s quite a bit of work, it was a $2 billion company,” Goepel said. “It doesn’t get done overnight.”

VANOC incorporated Sept. 30, 2003 and its fiscal year runs Aug. 1 to July 31. Last year’s annual general meeting was Dec. 13, 2011. Goepel said the organization is not in deficit and has not needed any additional public funding.

“The amount of activity is really pretty minimal,” said Dick Pound, a Montreal-based IOC member and VANOC director. “Basically it’s a matter of making sure all outstanding lawsuits and claims are settled before you try to dissolve the corporation.”

VANOC’s last public disclosure was Dec. 17, 2010 when it reported a $1.884 billion balanced operating budget, after an additional $187.8 million from taxpayers. The original May 2007-released operating budget did not contemplate taxpayer funding. The recession dashed surplus hopes and VANOC received bailouts from governments and the IOC. In 2009, the IOC had pledged up to $22 million extra. IOC spokesman Andrew Mitchell said “the financial aspects” of its relationship with VANOC were “completed this summer to the satisfaction of both parties.”

The November 2002 Multiparty Agreement required VANOC to provide quarterly and annual financial reports to funding governments. A B.C. Finance Ministry representative, on condition of anonymity, said the last one received was in December 2010. “The province no longer requires quarterly financial reports from VANOC,” said the official.

VANOC was named in several B.C. Supreme Court lawsuits after the Games, to which VANOC filed defence statements denying the claims.

A Jan. 6, 2014 trial is scheduled for Wei-Pin (Sarah) Chen, a Vancouver bank teller who claims she was injured by an ICBC-insured, GM vehicle driven by an unknown female VANOC worker near Burrard Station on Feb. 10, 2012.

Coquitlam automotive technician Walter Baldauf sued several parties, including VANOC, after he allegedly tripped Feb. 19, 2010 on the temporary plastic tile system placed over the formerly grassy Vancouver Art Gallery north plaza. He claimed he broke his right leg and ankle at the B.C. government live site.

Powell River restaurateur Todd Hodgins claimed in a Jan. 20, 2012 filing that he was a front seat passenger in a car that was t-boned by the temporary Bombardier Olympic Streetcar at the Moberly Street crossing on Feb. 19, 2010.

Mario’s Gelati sued VANOC and the three governments on March 3, 2010 for lost business because of road closures and security fences near the Olympic Village. A Nov. 26, 2012 trial was scheduled, but the matter has been adjourned. VANOC applied to a judge for copies of the ice cream company’s financial records to determine whether its losses were as severe as the $2.5 million it claimed.

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Towering commercial sales best B.C. record

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012


Investors snapped up $1.42 billion worth of B.C. commercial real estate in the first half of this year, shattering a record set in 2010, with unit sales flirting with an all-time record as well.

“With 63 transactions completed in the first six months of 2012 alone, the number of deals that will close this year is also likely to surpass the previous annual record of 99, set in 2010,” reported Avison Young.

Most of the action is in the downtown office sector. Deals included the $401 million acquisition of the Bentall V office tower, $115 million paid for a 50 per cent interest in the office buildings at 401 West Georgia, and 800 Burrard Street.

Other top deals: the $100 million sale of the Plaza at New Westminster Station (a retail centre) and the $81.3 million purchase of the Modalink Distribution Hub industrial portfolio.

“The record level of investment in B.C. commercial real estate during the first half of 2012 is testimony to the stability, strength and desirability of our market,” said Michael Keenan, principal and managing director of Avison Young’s Vancouver office. “We are attractive to all types of investors – private, institutional, public companies and REITs – and activity is limited only by the supply of available product.”

More than $700 million was invested in office buildings in the first half of 2012 compared with $499 million invested in all of 2011. The retail sector saw 30 transactions totalling $498 million in the same six-month period.

The lack of available quality industrial product remains a primary characteristic of the Metro Vancouver commercial real estate market. While an industrial sales dollar volume of $215 million in the first half of 2012 surpassed industrial sales totals in the first and second halves of 2011, the deals made up only 15 per cent of overall sales volume and 26 per cent of transactions.

The multi-family sector saw 18 apartment-building transactions in the first half of 2012 with a total value of $331.5 million compared with 15 transactions valued at $139 million in the second half of 2011 and 20 deals totalling approximately $238 million in the first half of 2011, Avison Young reports.

Western Investor

Developer may save old Vancouver mansion

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Heritage agreement reached in Mount Pleasant, Grandview-Woodlands

Naoibh O’Connor
Van. Courier

Heritage Vancouver is hopeful it will be able to scratch an entry off its 2012 top ten endangered sites list thanks to the prospect of a heritage revitalization agreement.

The Wilmar estate at 2050 Southwest Marine Dr. in Southlands landed in the No. 7 position on the list after news reports revealed it was listed for sale at $8.5 million. Speculation was the property had only land value and high upgrading costs meant the historic mansion would likely be torn down.

A developer, however, has approached the city about the possibility of heritage revitalization agreement (HRA), which could save the main house and coach house, which is a three-car garage with space above it.

An open house is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 3 to allow the public to “share ideas” on how the house can be saved, according to a public notice.

Architect Timothy Ankenman of Ankenman Marchand Architects, who’s working on the project, said they’re not at the stage where they’re making a formal proposal.

“The public open house is much more to see if there’s a real willingness within the community to save the house and then if so, explore what values are most important to the community in order to do so,” he said in an email. “It will be more of a workshop format where we will be seeking preliminary feedback from the community before we make any real formal proposal. There may be various preliminary options that people can sink their teeth into so they can digest what the site has to offer, but we are still in the process of working up those sketches and ideas, and how many (if any) will be presented at the Oct. 3rd open house is still being worked on.”

The Tudor-style, five-bedroom house was built in 1925 and sits on a large two-acre lot.

Kent Munro, assistant director of planning, told the Courier a city staff person will be at the open house to observe and he confirmed an HRA application hasn’t been filed with the city yet.

“We’ve encouraged them to go out and to share the idea and to get feedback-that’s the way we normally like these things to go, so nobody’s surprised when the application comes in and there’s a bit of an understanding before we even start,” he said. “There’s a number of heritage buildings and resources in that stretch of Marine Drive with pressures to re-develop at times. So there’s an issue there that needs to be looked at-is there an interest in the community to protect these heritage resources and, if so, how and what’s acceptable.”

Munro said it’s up to council to approve or reject a heritage revitalization agreement application, but the basic idea is to insert infill housing in the open space around the heritage building and preserve, protect and rehabilitate the historic house.

“It’s a trade-off basically. You allow a little bit of new development, which creates value and then the expectation is the value that’s created gets turned around and put into the cost of rehabilitating the heritage building. The formula basically is that the infill that’s allowed is only what’s need to offset the costs of the rehabilitation and no more.”

Listing agent Larry Yatkowsky wouldn’t name the developer, but said a sale hasn’t gone through yet. A deal is contingent on an agreement with the city and other stakeholders and other matters.

Heritage Vancouver spokesman Donald Luxton is encouraged by the news. The society considers the Wilmar estate to be historically and architecturally significant.

Wilmar, Heritage Vancouver notes on its 2012 endangered sites list, is the combined names of Willard and Mary Kitchen. Their family and descendents occupied the house until 2006. When the last living member, Judith Jardine, passed away, the home was bequeathed to the Vancouver Foundation.

“Willard Kitchen was a director of The Pacific Great Eastern Railway, later to become B.C. Rail. It was designed by architects Benzie & Bow, the prominent partnership of James Anderson Benzie and William Bow that produced a number of significant buildings in the Lower Mainland,” Heritage Vancouver noted. “Wilmar was designed in the Tudor Revival style, with typical features such as half-timbered gables and notable brickwork and chimneys. Tudor Revival was popular with clients throughout the British Commonwealth as it reflected a long lineage of English country manors, prestige and an aristocratic lifestyle.”

Luxton said he’s “extremely happy” the mansion might be saved.

“I think everybody understood there was potential there to go the heritage route. It was just at that point [when news of the sale was published] nobody had stepped forward to actually start negotiating it with the city. The potential was there. It’s just whether or not somebody would actually put the investment in to it. [This is a] privately owned site. You have to hope for the best in these cases and hope you can push things along in the right direction. But, yes, this one is looking very positive.”

Munro said he doesn’t believe there have been any HRAs in the neighbourhood around the Wilmar property, but such agreements have been reached in areas such as Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodlands.

“They tend to be in the neighbourhoods in the city where the housing stock is older. This [Marine Drive] area historically was an area where people built their estate houses years and years ago. So now they’re at an age where they have some heritage value,” he said. “They’re big properties. They’re expensive to upkeep. The original owners have passed away or moved on and we have this issue of these [houses] falling into disrepair and temptation by some to knock them down. We’ll find out whether this community has these concerns and at the end of the day it’s a balance-are people willing to accept a little bit of infill housing on these large lots in order to save the heritage resource.”

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Cash Flow Key to Residential Real Estate Investing

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Glen Korstrom

A new Urban Analytics survey aims to alert real-estate investors to the industry wisdom that the best way to assess investment properties is to examine how much net profit rental income will generate.

The Vancouver consulting firm focused on Burnaby neighbourhoods – primarily because the research was sponsored by Hungerford Properties, which is developing the two-tower Altitude project at UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain near Simon Fraser University (SFU).

The study found that rental prices atop Burnaby Mountain are either above or equivalent to other areas of the Lower Mainland, but that the cost to buy property is lower.

Urban Analytics principal Michael Ferreira told Business in Vancouver that the cost of condos in the SFU neighbourhood is about $450 per square foot. That compares with $540 per square foot near Brentwood, $570 per square foot near Metrotown and $500 per square foot in the Highgate neighbourhood.

Rental rates atop Burnaby Mountain, his study found, are about $1.99 per square foot. That’s more than:

  • the average $1.96 per square foot that landlords can generate near Metrotown;
  • the $1.92 per square foot that condominiums rent for near Brentwood; and
  • the $1.89 per square foot that’s the going rental rate in Highgate.

“Most of the investors in the market today are Asians,” Ferreira said, “so we also looked at where they’re buying today other than Burnaby.”

He found that condominiums in Richmond’s city centre and at the University of British Columbia campus provided less positive cash flow than those at SFU.

Richmond condominiums cost an average of $550 per square foot and can be rented for an average of $1.91 per square foot, whereas those at UBC cost an average of $910 per square foot and draw a rent of about $2.57 per square foot. The Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) independently produced a report last year that found that Surrey is the best place to invest in Metro Vancouver and that Maple Ridge was the next most attractive.

Rents and property ownership costs were included in the calculation.

In addition to city and regional real estate boards and realtors, REIN’s more comprehensive study used a variety of research reports from:

  • Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.;
  • Statistics Canada;
  • Multiple Listing Service;
  • Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

“Surrey will reap the benefits of the Gateway program,” the report noted to explain why Surrey is a better investment real estate city than others.

“A number of projects are in various stages of completion that will positively impact the commute for residents to and from Surrey and improve transportation logistics for businesses. In the next decade, the city will continue to see explosive population growth – one of the important factors to consider when deciding where to invest.”

© 2012 Real Estate Weekly

First Timers: Wish I had bought sooner

Thursday, September 20th, 2012


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Mayfair Place 9399 Odlin Road, Richmond

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Unparalleled value at Mayfair Place


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Vancouver condos and apartments face mandatory food scrap recycling

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

City wants programs in place by 2015

Mike Howell
Van. Courier

Condominium complexes and businesses will be required to have recycling services for food scraps in place by 2015 or face a penalty, says the city’s chief engineer.

Peter Judd said the requirement and penalties for owners of multi-family buildings and businesses will be outlined in detail in the coming weeks at a council meeting.

“Yes, people will have to participate and, yes, ultimately there will be penalties if they don’t,” Judd told the Courier. “We need to come back to council with recommendations and what those regulations might look like for business and multi-family [buildings].”

The reason for the city’s push for the food scraps recycling requirement is connected to Metro Vancouver’s solid waste management plan that was approved by the provincial government.

The plan says all organic material in the region must be diverted from the landfill by 2015. If the city doesn’t comply with the requirement, it would find itself in trouble with the province.

Judd suggested city bylaws or Metro Vancouver regulations would be used to enforce owners to comply with the management plan.

“People have to organize recycling now, they have to organize garbage collection now,” he said, noting society’s desire to recycle. “It gets done.”

In addition, many condo residents and business owners have their own recycling systems in place. But whether owners without recycling in their buildings, particularly for food scraps, will comply with the plan is unclear at this point.

Terry Clark, the acting director of the B.C. Apartment Owners and Managers Association, said the recycling requirement is an issue for owners and he planned to discuss it with the board of directors Sept. 20.

“I’m on it and once the board has determined some policy on it, I’d be more than happy to share that,” Clark said.

London Drugs, which operates 20 stores in Vancouver, expects to have all of its 76 stores in Western Canada equipped with a food scrap recycling system by November.

Maury McCausland, who oversees the company’s recycling program, said the London Drugs that recently opened at the former Olympic Village site has a food scrap system.

“I’ve probably got six streams of recycling in our lunch rooms – from organics to paper to soft plastic to hard plastic to refundable bottles,” said McCausland, noting the company’s shift to recycling saves money. “Garbage costs money and landfill fees are not going down and that’s why we’re really doing it. It just makes really good business sense to pull this stuff out of the garbage and put it into recycling stream, where I’m paying half the cost that I normally would to landfill it.”

The city has a list of private companies on its website that haul food waste and Judd urged owners of condominium complexes and businesses to search one out.

Last week, the city announced the expansion of its food scraps recycling program to approximately 90,000 single-family homes and duplexes.

Prior to the program being implemented, almost 40 per cent of garbage sent to the landfill was food scraps and other materials that naturally degrade.

“It’s the food scraps going in the dump that creates all the methane and methane is a terrible greenhouse gas – it’s like 20 times more potent than Co2,” Judd explained. “So if you take all of that food waste out of the landfill, you’ll be generating much less gas. It’s a huge win for the environment.”

Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Aviara in Burnaby Brentwood by Ledingham McAllister

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Aviara Ascending with views and valu


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